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Painting Commissions

Alan Reed

Warehouse

One of the most interesting painting commissions I’ve worked on in 2016 has been for the Lakes Distillery. The Lakes Distillery opened in 2104 and is already winning awards for its Whiskey, Gin and Vodka. It is housed in a Victorian Cattle Farm with hand made copper stills, set in the stunning scenery of the Lake District.

When I was given a tour around the distillery to get painting ideas, the first thing that really struck me was just how beautifully thought out everything is about the Lakes Distillery, from the branding through to the actual buildings themselves. It really is a credit to everyone who has been involved with this project.

The first subject which demanded to be painted was the warehouse containing dozens of barrels of maturing whiskey. The distillery manager John Drake took me around and we decided that a painting with him testing the progress of one of the whiskeys would make an interesting painting.

Alan Reed

Sketchbook Watercolour of the Warehouse

My initial study was an A5 watercolour painted in my home made leather bound sketchbook. When painting on location, I tend to draw with the brush, rarely using a pencil. Working in this manner produces brush marks which are very direct and expressive. Photography is also an aid to make sure everything is drawn out accurately when it comes to the finished studio painting.

I always aim to retain the fluency and freedom of the sketchbook studies when it comes to working in the Studio otherwise the painting can loose its freshness and spontaneity.

Two paintings were commissioned. The second one of the copper stills was again inspired by a sketchbook watercolour. I’ll be writing about this one in another blog post.

Paul Currie, the Lakes Distillery founder and his team were delighted with their two painting commissions which have been reproduced as limited edition prints to present to their Founder Club Members.

I really recommend a visit to the Lakes Distillery if you are in the area. The setting is stunning and their restaurant is first class.

 

 

 

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Roman Forum

Alan Reed

Roman Forum, First Light

For over a year now I have been working on a number of painting commissions for an overseas client who has a passion for Roman history and paintings depicting Roman architecture. To paint these subjects with the kind of insight and integrity that they deserve, I make sure that I gather sufficient original reference by going on location to the exact places that have been requested.

Considerable time is spent surveying the subject from different angles and at different times of day to get the best composition and lighting. For this particular view of the Roman Forum I awoke when it was still dark and walked briskly from our hotel room along the deserted streets of Rome to capture the first rays of sunlight striking the ancient columns of the Temple of Saturn. I have to say, if you are visiting any busy city, it’s well worth the effort to get up early before the rest of the tourists take to the streets.

I wasted no time in whipping out my leather bound sketchbook to do a rapid watercolour study to get a feeling of the mood, light and general atmosphere of the Roman Forum.

Alan Reed

Painting on location in Rome

After taking several photographs from my first view point of the Roman Forum, I then made my way to another vantage point to tackle another possible painting. By then however, the sun had risen considerably higher so the lighting was not as interesting. I decided to return again the following morning. Fortunately I’m used to getting up early, so another visit was very much a pleasure than a chore. In the end, it was the second painting which the client was delighted with and which has been added to his growing collection of Alan Reed original paintings.

I’m pleased to say that my original painting of the Roman Forum titled First Light has been published as a limited edition print available online and from my Studio & Gallery in Ponteland, Northumberland. The original watercolour is also currently on view as well.

 

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Colosseum Painting

Alan Reed

Colosseum, Rome

One of the many thrills of being a full time artist is receiving commissions to paint subjects which you find stimulating and exciting. Over the last 12 months I’ve received a number of commissions to paint some of the architecture built by the Romans.

Because of my training at art college in architecture, I really enjoy the whole process of gathering reference material on location through watercolour sketchbook studies of the ancient architecture and photography. Pulling all the material together in my studio to create a finished watercolour is a rewarding task, particularly when I know how much the client really appreciates the final outcome.

The most recent commission is a painting of the Colosseum in Rome. I’ve painted the Colosseum on a number of occasions at different times of day and various angles. This particular view of the Colosseum is taken from the Roman Forum when I spent an afternoon sketching around the various ruins.

Alan Reed

Roman Forum, Dawn

I also rose before dawn to capture the sun rising over the remains of the temples as you can see in the watercolour sketch above.

Other commissions of Rome have included the Arch of Titus and Parco degli Acquedotti and the Roman Forum.

To find out more about commissioning a painting, please visit my Studio & Gallery in Ponteland for an informal chat or watch the Commissions Video on my website.

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Parco degli Acquedotti

Alan Reed Watercolour

Parco degli Acquedotti

Over the last few months I’ve been working on a number of painting commissions of Rome for an overseas client. You can read a testimonial on a previous blog post about one of the paintings I did for him of the Arch of Titus.

This has involved me travelling to Rome for short visits to gather suitable reference. The last trip in October saw me take a metro ride from the centre of Rome to Parco degli Acquedotti which boasts some fine remains of the magnificent aqueducts built by Emperors Claudius and Hadrian.

It was late afternoon so I worked rapidly on a couple of “en plein air” watercolours looking directly into the autumn sunlight capturing the main section. Although the longest stretch of the section by Claudius is the most impressive, I was also struck by the fragmented parts which stood alone in a field, creating some rather beautiful shapes, almost like letters of the alphabet.

I couldn’t resist painting a 21″ x 14″ studio watercolour on hand made Fabriano paper of Parco degli Acquedotti in the soft, warm autumnal light which can be seen at my Studio & Gallery in Ponteland.

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Commission a Portrait

Alan Reed

Portrait of Arthur

On our Painting Holiday in Italy in May 2015, one of the guests asked me to paint a portrait of her husband Arthur for his birthday present in August. It was to be a surprise so she asked if I could work from photographs. I said that I could, but if possible I would prefer to try and do a sketch of him and take my own photographs.

I devised a cunning plan. On the last evening of the holiday, I began to sketch various guests in my Moleskine Sketchbook after dinner as we were all relaxing in the living room of Chiesa del Carmine.

Eventually it was Arthur’s turn and he willingly obliged to sit without suspecting that my humble charcoal sketch would develop into a 20″ x 16″ portrait in oils!

I took inspiration from the new John Singer Sargent Book “Portraits of Artists and Friends” which accompanied the stunning exhibition of Sargent’s Portraits at the National Portrait Gallery in London earlier this year. In the excellent book are some very fresh, informal portraits of Sargent’s artist friends, singers and writers. I tried to keep Arthur’s portrait very simple and relaxed and was thrilled to receive this lovely testimonial from Arthur himself just after he received his present.

“We came home last night from Portugal, where we had been celebrating my birthday on Tuesday with the children and grandchildren. Now, I am the ever so proud and thrilled owner of the most marvellous portrait of me. I have felt both ecstatic and overwhelmed. Diana had erected it suitably on her easel.

When she called me up to see my present from her, and I saw my portrait, (actually I was wearing the same jumper), I just started shaking with excitement. Unusually for me, I was struck dumb, and did not know what to say.

Now a little recovered, I can tell you directly how thrilled I am. It seems a bit self centered to say so, but I think it captures the very essence of me. Just perfect. Thank you so much for taking so much effort to capture the very being of me. I am thrilled.

Please give my very best wishes to Sue, too. We both enjoyed both our original Easter visit to your home, and our wonderful week with you in the summer, and hence we are both equally looking forward to next year.

You cannot imagine how happy you have made my celebration week, for my larger birthday number than I really like to think about.

With all very best wishes”.

Arthur

If you would like to discuss having a portrait painted of a family member or friend, please visit my Studio & Gallery in Ponteland without any obligation or watch the Commissions video on my website to find out more.

Some of the links on this post are affiliate links including the book “Sargent, Portraits of Artists and Friends” available from Amazon. If you click on the links and buy the books then I will receive a small percentage of the sale from Amazon at no extra cost to yourself.

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Commission a Portrait

Alan Reed

CastleGate Portraits Painted in oils

On the 9th September 2015 a project was finally unveiled which I had been working on for two years. The artwork depicts a selection of portraits of people who are either past, present or future members of City Church Newcastle which Susan and I have been a part of since 1993. The portraits are hanging in the atrium of the CastleGate building which we bought as a church in the late nineties and is to reflect the vision of the church.

Most of the portraits have been painted from life over several sittings at my Studio & Gallery in Ponteland. Typically, each sitting would last a couple of hours which has been a mutually enjoyable experience for both myself and the sitter.

Part of painting someones portrait is not just capturing a good likeness but also about bringing out something of the persons personality and character. That comes from spending time in conversation with the sitter, getting to know them and bringing out an expression or “look” that is typically them.

I find that over the course of a two hour sitting, the light will often change casting either a shadow over part of the face or a highlight on another part which, when painted, really helps to describe something about that person. This has always been my aim since investing a huge amount of time in studying portraiture over the last four years. It’s not just about developing a good, sound painting technique in oils but producing a piece of art which people can really connect with, whether they know the person or not. I find that when I’m studying John Singer Sargent’s portraits, I’m really captivated, not just by the painting but the subject too. I somehow feel as though I’d like to meet them.

Alan Reed

Atrium of the CastleGate

If you would like to Commission a Portrait then why not visit the CastleGate on Melbourne Street, Newcastle to take a closer look at the 24 portraits which have been painted in oils on aluminium panels.

To find out more about the process of commissioning a portrait you can also visit my website or Studio & Gallery in Ponteland.

 

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Great Review from a Client

Watercolour of the Arch of Titus

Arch of Titus, Rome

 

I’ve been working on a number of painting commissions of Rome for a new client. Last week I sent out one of the paintings so I was very pleased to receive the following review today for the original watercolour of “The Arch of Titus”.

This particular painting is based on a sketchbook study painted on location and a number of photographs. I felt that it was important to take care in capturing the Latin inscription and the scene under the arch itself that shows the spoils of Jerusalem. However, it was also important to retain the spontaneity of the sketchbook study too.

“Dear Alan,
I fear singing your praises as you may decide to raise your price for future work.
But worthy praise should be given heartily and your work is spectacular – worthy of the Emperor himself!
Thank you.
I look forward to the forum and other works.
Enjoy the weekend.”

Sylvano

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City Church Portraits

Sight Size Painting

Oil Painting Portrait of Sola Idowu

Over the last 12 months I have been working on a painting project for City Church Newcastle which meets at the CastleGate, Melbourne Street, Newcastle.

In the summer of 2013 I was approached by Ed Morrow (who manages the CastleGate) asking my advice about what kind of artwork would look good in the new atrium which would reflect the vision of the church.

My wife Susan and I have been members of City Church since it’s beginning. Our vision is that we will be a church of thousands, a community full of people from every nation. My suggestion was that I painted a number of portraits of church members of different ages, races and stages of life that represented the church family.

I started the first one in October 2013 with several sittings of Adrian Smith. The Portraits have been painted in oils on aluminium panels for Health and Safety reasons. They have to be prepared first with emery paper then primed using an Etch Primer. I then paint several coats of an oil paint primer before tinting each panel to a neutral tint. It’s at that point I can begin a series of sittings, painting from life.

I have used photography as an aid to make sure that the proportions are correct. With the exception of the children I’ve painted 90% of the painting work is from life, painting from observation.

Most of my 30 year professional career has been spent painting landscapes, cityscapes and seascapes in watercolour throughout the North East, Scotland, UK, Italy and the Middle East. I’ve learned many years ago when to finish a painting in watercolour, the danger of overworking it being a real possibility. Once you overdo it, there’s no going back with watercolour!

With oil painting, it’s quite different. You can always see little details to fiddle on with to keep trying to improve the portrait. If you make a mistake, you simply correct it. I’m a bit of a perfectionist when it comes to painting so I needed a justifiable reason to stop each portrait. All christians are a work in progress, none of us will achieve perfection until the day we are united with Jesus Christ. I’ve deliberately decided to have some of the portraits “unfinished”. This is a random choice and not any reflection on anyone’s spirituality!

The plan at this point in time is to have a launch later on in the autumn when the portraits will be hung in the atrium to coincide with a “Vision Sunday” for the church.

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Bill Quay

Watercolour Painting of River Tyne

Original Watercolour of Bill Quay

Several months ago I received an enquiry about taking on a commission to do a watercolour painting of Bill Quay. The painting was to be a “thank you” present from a lady to give to her parents as she was getting married in the summer.

Bill Quay on the River Tyne holds special personal memories for the family. We discussed a specific size that would fit with her budget and I went one evening to Bill Quay to do a small sketchbook watercolour of the scene that the client had in mind.

Over the years I’ve painted many views of the River Tyne including North Shields, Fishing. I had a good idea of what would work for this particular painting.

The client approved the sketch so I was able to commence on the finished 14″ x 10″ watercolour, painted on an Arches Watercolour Block. Once again, the painting received the “thumbs up” from the client so all that needed to be done was to organise the framing and delivery.

We offer a bespoke framing service at my Studio & Gallery in Ponteland where we have a comprehensive range of framing and mount options and I have over 30 years experience in helping customers choose the right frame and mount for a painting. I thought it would be nice to feature the client’s response to the commission.

“Just to let you know I have given the painting of Bill Quay to my parents today. It was also the first time I have seen it. Needless to say there were lots of tears! They were so pleased they have made sure everyone has seen it who is here today at the family barbecue.  I can’t thank you enough, its absolutley brilliant and the mounting and frame is just fantastic. They have said they will put a review on the website and of course I will as well. Thank you again, its just everything and more.” L.

One of the links on this post is an affiliate link to an Arches Watercolour Block, a product which I personally use, available from Amazon. If you click on the link and buy this product then I will receive a small percentage of the sale from Amazon at no extra cost to yourself.

 

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Paintings of Olive Trees

Sketchbook Study of Olive Trees in Italy

Sketchbook Study of Olive Trees

I love doing paintings of olive trees. Several years ago I was commissioned to paint a client’s property in Italy.

As part of the research for the commission, I made some studies in my leather-bound sketchbook of the olive grove that surrounded their house in Umbria.

It was a friends 60th birthday recently so I painted her a handmade card of the scene based on the location watercolour, another opportunity to do some paintings of olive trees! She was so thrilled with her card that she had it framed to add it to her collection of Alan Reed Art.

To find out more about commissioning handmade cards of special places for a loved one go to the commissions page on my website.

More paintings of Olive Trees and paintings of Italy can be seen on alanreed.com and at my Studio & Gallery in Ponteland, Northumberland.

If you would like to have a go at painting olive trees, why not book a painting holiday in Italy through Alan Reed Art and I can give you some tuition.

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